Educational Collaboration Heralded the Success of Thousands of Children and Young People in Tanzania

Teacher Ever Albert Masonganya sees the potential in each child.
Teacher Ever Albert Masonganya sees the potential in each child.

Educational collaboration between Fida and its Tanzanian church partner became a success story. The partner church FPCT has established over 230 preschools and facilitated rural preschool education for more than 11 500 children every year. For over a decade, the preschools, which these days are wholly run by Tanzanian staff, have promoted gender equality and dialogue between religious communities in a similar fashion to the youth centre concept launched by Fida. According to the commissioned, external project evaluations, 59 000 young people attended the youth centres, which continue to be supported by Fida, and approximately 6 000 young people received employability enhancing training last year.

Pangan Preschool teacher since 2009, Ever Albert Masonganya enjoys her work. With references from the church, the school project provided an opportunity for her to attend a four-year training at the Tanga Teachers’ College.

– I believe that every child is good at something. Every child is able to learn and develop, but children need teaching and encouragement, says Ever Masonganya, who is also bringing up her brother’s two children.

Preschools facilitate schooling regardless of the background

Preschools have become “the miracle of development co-operation”. They are accessible to children from even the poorest families and they are run by the local churches in collaboration with their communities. The schools operate in the rural regions, where access to public education is poor. There is an equal representation of genders both within the student body and the teachers. The schools are professionally run and their teachers are even better educated than in the government schools, despite the lower teacher salaries. Even Muslim parents, for instance, appreciate the ethical values the schools are based on.

The high standard of teaching is made possible by the qualification standards required by the FPCT preschools and the motivation of the teachers. The church offers and finances a three-year preschool teaching program, which follows the government curriculum, whereas the government schools offer only a year of preschool. Lack of preschool resources also prevents school development in Tanzania.

– The government preschool education is of poor quality. The government has an educational policy, but no resources to manage it. Only approximately one third of the children are able to access preschool, explains Ibrahim Majatta, the national coordinator of the FPCT church preschools.

A safe place for hanging out and learning a trade

The nine youth centres run by the FPCT Church provide a safe place and safe adult support to all types of young people. You can also, for example, play football or participate in courses for IT and sewing. For example, the Zanzibar centre has also had a positive impact in the relationships between religious communities. The concept is also spreading to other places in East Africa.

The authorities in the city of Shinyanga in Northern Tanzania were so pleased with the activities of the local youth centre that they invited the church pastor to participate in the working group of the city “elders”. The local government also donated land for the youth centre to enable it to expand its activities.

After attending the courses, the young people have started new businesses in the region. Past sex workers are now working as seamstresses. Even the city’s crime statistics have shown a decline after the youth centre began its operations. The collaboration by Fida and the Tanzanian church is an example of a well-functioning and most productive development co-ordination.